Nancy Reagan Did Not Help With AIDS Awareness–Hillary Clinton Is Just Wrong

I, along with a huge swath of the nation, was simply stunned on Friday when watching the lead-up to the funeral for Nancy Reagan.  Outside the large tent erected for the event was Hillary Clinton being interviewed about her recollections of the former First Lady.  What she had to say was thoughtful and comforting.  But then Clinton started spewing the most bizarre up-side down line of fantasy that made me wonder how much rest might be required to bring her to a state of awareness.  I know presidential campaigns are taxing on the body but how does one explain what Clinton had to say about Nancy’s role with AIDS?

I was very much aware of the AIDS crisis in this nation during President Reagan’s terms.    I was so upset with his administration’s lack of focus on the matter, and the way the fear of the disease was outpacing the facts that I made an effort to stem the tide.

I was working at WDOR radio in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in the mid-80’s and with a small market station had more latitude than I might have found at a larger station.  Our signal reached to Milwaukee at night and I decided to use the platform behind the microphone.  So I researched, interviewed, wrote, packaged, and reported a week-long series which aired on most of the daily newscasts about AIDS. Each part was roughly 3 minutes in length.  I had a serious and (humbly stated) well crafted product at a time it was seriously needed.   I made clear AIDS was not ‘ a gay disease’.

So to hear Clinton say that Nancy Reagan was somehow instrumental in bringing AIDS awareness to the nation was simply galling.

I might remind Clinton that it was Americans like me who continually chastised President Reagan for not even talking about AIDS.  It would not be until May 31, 1987 that he would even mention the topic in a speech.   By then I was out of radio and working with a state legislator.   I was in government and hearing from many who were as troubled by the lack of awareness as I had long felt.

By the time Reagan found his way to talk about AIDS more than twenty-five thousand people, the majority of them gay men, had died in the United States.   It was shocking that our president had not noticed or cared.

But his callous disregard was not alone when it came to those in his White House.  Those folks my age will recall that Reagan’s spokesman, Larry Speakes, made jokes about victims of AIDS at press conferences.  And as we all know from living at that time Nancy Reagan famously and sadly refused to act in any way in 1985 to help her friend Rock Hudson when he was in Paris dying of AIDS.

I simply can not abide the lapse of memory that Clinton showed on national television with her revisionist history.  As a former broadcaster who worked to inform my listeners, and as a gay man there is no way to stay quiet on this matter.

The fact is that Nancy Reagan did not act to help bring awareness to the AIDS epidemic when she had the power to do so.   History will always show that to be true.

William Lee Golden of The Oakridge Boys And Linda Owen Likes Caffeinated Politics Link

The Caffeinated Politics Facebook page posting of six former First Ladies went viral this week.  As of now this posting reached 24,715,887 people and have engaged 3,062,997 people.  I was notified today that William Lee Golden of The Oakridge Boys was one of those people.  I am truly stunned.


Nancy Reagan Political Cartoons

Though I love to read it remains true that the sketching’s from a political cartoonist can often sum up with more power and punch the topics of the day.    With that in mind come these offerings concerning the passing of Nancy Reagan.

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Wife Of Little Jimmy Dickens Shares My Facebook Link

Thanks to my friend Terry Tyson for alerting me late tonight that the wife of famed Grand Ole Opry Star Little Jimmy Dickens shared my link about the First Ladies on her Facebook page.  The post which I placed on the Caffeinated Politics FB page Sunday has gone viral.  At this posting there have been 15,229,351 views.

Dickens signed my guitar and remains a legend for all time.  Needless to say this really moves me.


Caffeinated Politics Facebook Post Goes Viral—Over 13 Million Views (Thus Far)!

Readers to my blog know there is no real way to know what might show up as a blog post.  I write about what interests me, and also what times allows for.  When I heard former First Lady Nancy Reagan died on Sunday I wanted to make note of the passing and wondered what might be the best way to sum up the historic role she played in our country.  It was then one of my favorite pictures from the past came to mind.

The photo showed six First Ladies walking together at the dedication of Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Library in 1991.  I posted it here on my blog and also on my Caffeinated Politics Facebook page.    There is no way I could know within hours that post would start to generate interest, shares, and conversation.   As of this posting there have been 13,583,894 people reached by the post and 1,625,445 engaged by the post.    With my humble attempt to honor the life of a former first lady my little blog went viral.  And in a major way.

The largest part of my FB audience for this post (24%) are women between the ages of 55-64.   87% of those who saw my post did so on a mobile device.

Best of all I have been flooded with personal messages that in many ways echo this one below.  It comes from a conservative woman who happens to appreciate that though I have a different political perspective I write in a diplomatic manner.

Ok, let me start by saying that as a staunch, independent Christian conservative, many of our views are polar opposites. That being said, I commend you on your blog. I have seen so many (mostly liberals) write ignorant and degrading comments. Every 4 letter word in the book is used and the misspellings are unbelievable. Maybe because it appears from your picture, we are about the same age, and we were taught the value of the written word. We know how to make points without using four letter words every other line and are thoughtful & respectful regardless of our beliefs. I just wanted to let you know I just found your page, and I respect your views even though I don’t always agree with them. Thank you for a great job!

I have spent lots of time over the past three days taking time to comment with those who have made the effort to reach out to me.   If they took time to write kind notes there was no way not to respond.

When this week started I had less than 200 followers on my CP FB page and as I write this post there are over 10,000.  I am humbled by the reaction.

I never blog for what I think might generate a reaction.    I make no money with this blog and so numbers in-and-of themselves mean nothing.  I write from the heart and have fun.  And when it all clicks and there is a reaction that is pure frosting on the cake.

Nancy Reagan’s Favorite Florist, David Jones, Dies At Age 78

Another interesting obituary.


David Jones, a Hollywood florist who for 50 years adorned the grand social affairs of a roster of famous clients that included Eleanor Roosevelt, Mamie Eisenhower, Jacqueline Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson, as well as the Reagans, Paleys and Bloomingdales, died on Sept. 17 in Los Angeles. He was 78.

He began his career in New York in the 1950s as an assistant to Judith Charach Wyker, a prominent Upper East Side floral designer known professionally as Judith Garden. Her innovative style — incorporating potted trees and twigs to create displays more natural-looking than the formal arrangements of the day — earned her a following among the city’s social elite in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.

During that apprenticeship he worked at the homes of Mrs. Roosevelt; William S. Paley, the chief executive of CBS, and his wife, Barbara; and the banking heir Paul Mellon and his wife, Rachel. And he made some of his first visits to the White House, becoming a favorite of Mrs. Eisenhower and Mrs. Kennedy.

It was Nancy Reagan who gave Mr. Jones entree to the social elite at the other end of the country, he told interviewers. She had just retired from acting when Mr. Jones moved to a shop on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood in 1963.

Mrs. Reagan was taken by his designs. He was known for his English country-cottage-style flower arrangements — a gauzy romantic look that often incorporated flowers and plants from his clients’ own gardens, especially roses, dahlias and potted citrus and fig trees.

Mr. Jones and Mrs. Reagan became close friends, and through her, Mr. Hitz said, his client list grew to include Mary and Jack Benny, Betsy and Alfred Bloomingdale, Walter and Leonore Annenberg, Joan Crawford, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, James Garner, Audrey Hepburn, Zubin Mehta, Liam Neeson, Joan Rivers, Barbara Stanwyck and David Geffen, among many others.

The friendship continued into the White House, where Mrs. Reagan commissioned him to design floral decorations for state dinners.

Mr. Jones admired his patron’s taste, too.

“She isn’t just your ordinary ball-of-flowers-in-the-middle-of-the-table hostess,” he said of Mrs. Reagan in an interview with People magazine in 1981, as the Reagans prepared to occupy the White House. “Crystal balls mixed with ferns and heads of flowers, glazed pots of tulips with candles — that’s the kind of look she’ll give to the White House.”


Nancy Reagan Says Ronnie Did Not Pass Torch To Newt Gingrich

Another push-back from those who want Newt Gingrich to end his campaign.

Calling himself “the legitimate heir to the Reagan movement,” Newt Gingrich recently cited a 1995 speech by Nancy Reagan in which the former First Lady said that her husband “passed on the torch” to him.

“In 1995, Nancy Reagan at the Goldwater Institute was very generous,” Gingrich told voters in Florida on Sunday. “And she said ‘Just as Barry gave the torch to Ronny, Ronny has passed on the torch to Newt.’”

But as NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports, Gingrich appears to be taking that comment out of context.

Sources close to Nancy Reagan said the speech itself was written by the host at the Goldwater Organization – where Mrs. Reagan delivered the remarks – and that she was referring generally to Congress and not specifically to the former Speaker, Mitchell reported on her MSNBC program.

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Nancy Reagan Shows Catty Side In Vanity Fair Interview

I have long thought Nancy Reagan to be bitchy, catty, and ruthless.  That is why I rather like her.  (Her comment about Barbara Bush is such an example.)

The way she answered some of the questions put to her by Vanity Fair are more interesting for what they imply, than for what they say.

That is the style she has long employed that now makes me read every word, and then speculate about the rest.

Nancy Reagan on the Obamas

• Michelle Obama called Nancy Reagan for “advice” and “suggestions,” and in the course of a 45-minute conversation, Mrs. Reagan encouraged Mrs. Obama to have lots of state dinners. Colacello senses that she’s about to contrast the Obamas favorably with the Bushes, who were famously averse to entertaining at the White House, but then stops herself.

• She feels President Obama missed an opportunity when he did not invite her to the ceremony announcing his reversal of Bush’s policy on embryonic-stem-cell research. “I would have gone, and you know I don’t like to travel,” she tells Colacello. “Politically it would have been a good thing for him to do. Oh, well, nobody’s perfect. He called and thanked me for working on it. But he could have gotten more mileage out of it.”

On the Bushes


• Reagan says she felt George H. W. Bush served her husband well as vice president, but she reserved judgment on Barbara Bush: “I never got to know her very well. Our lives just took different tracks.”

• When asked if she ever tried to discuss the stem-cell issue with George W. Bush, Reagan says, “I think once I did, and then I didn’t anymore.”

• She was embarrassed when her son Ron wrote a screed against George W. Bush in Esquire in 2004, and she called Barbara Bush to apologize.

On life after Ronnie

• “I miss Ronnie a lot, an awful lot,” Reagan admits. “People say it gets better. No, it does not.”

• “It sounds strange, but … I see Ronnie. At nighttime, if I wake up, I think Ronnie’s there, and I start to talk to him. It’s not important what I say. But the fact is, I do think he’s there. And I see him.”

On her White House years

• Reagan explains her dustup with her husband’s chief of staff Don Regan, calling him “really a terrible man.” She says Vice President Bush was the one who told her, “You’ve really got to do something about Donald Regan,” and she reluctantly agreed. She enlisted former Democratic National Committee chairman Bob Strauss to help persuade the president. She also says that on one occasion, Regan hung up on her in the middle of a phone conversation. “When Ronnie found out about that, that did it,” she says.

On her relationship with her husband

• “He never really got angry with me—ever,” she says. Annoyed? “Annoyed, maybe.”

Ronald Reagan’s legacy

• While Ron Reagan tells Colacello that he feels his father’s “star might dim a little bit” because of the role Reaganomics played in our current economic crisis, Nancy says, “I don’t think Ronnie led us into anything that wasn’t good,” while admitting that “I really don’t know anything about” finance and economics.

• Mrs. Reagan says that her husband’s foremost disappointment was likely the fact that he wasn’t able to achieve his goal of doing away with nuclear weapons.

Vanity Fair’s July issue, which contains the full text of “Nancy Reagan’s Solo Role,” with photographs of the former First Lady by Jonathan Becker, hits newsstands in New York and Los Angeles on June 3 and nationwide on June 9.